HETE at Vandenburg AFB (take one)

We went out before Christmas to deliver HETE to Orbital's Vehicle Assembly Building at VAFB, where they're assembling the rocket.

Before it got put on the rocket HETE sat on its workstand in the clean tent. (Big JPEG version)

And yours truly got to do all the testing to make sure the truck ride across country wasn't more destructive that the shaking the rocket's gonna give it on launch. (Big JPEG version)

We tested the GPS one last time using a receiver placed outside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to detect the GPS constellation and rebroadcast the signal back to the flight GPS instrument. Here's Fred Miller standing with the external antenna (Bigger Pic of Fred) and the amplifier chain (Bigger Pic)

Yes, they really have a rocket. (JPEG version)

All the smarts of the rocket (you know, the stuff that puts us in the right orbit) is on the third stage. (JPEG version)

Neither Orbital nor NASA employees were allowed to operate the crane with HETE on it (something dumb about liability), so I got trained to use it: (Bigger)

We were all too busy to take many pictures during ``the Procedure''. When it was all done, HETE in a clean tent and on the rocket. Here the view looking from within the fairing down at the rocket. (Bigger)

And here's how I took that last picture. The fairing of the rocket comes in two pieces that split apart a minute or so after launch, after HETE's above most of the atmosphere, and air drag isn't an issue. (Bigger)

After it was on the rocket, there wasn't much to do but to test it again (Bigger)

and to make that final Go/NoGo decision (Bigger)

We celebrated a job well done at El Toro Bronco back in Lompoc, CA. (Bigger)